It’s been a hectic year since professor Caroline Kautsire published her first book, “What Kind of Girl,” but hectic isn’t unusual for her. Kautsire came to the Boston area from Malawi when she was 17 and has been hustling, studying, writing and working in the decade since.
That journey is what “What Kind of Girl” is all about. The book details the difficulty of existing between cultures and the effort it takes to find oneself by touching on Kautsire’s relationships with other Malawian girls and the otherness she’s felt in America. Kautsire’s immigration story quickly circled her neighborhood in Weymouth. Since then, she’s been doing virtual author talks and readings and cultivating a community on social media. Recently she’s found a new way to share her story: by donating her memoir to libraries all over Massachusetts.
“The feedback I was getting from the book was so powerful that I said, ‘I want people to be in on the story. How do I get the story to them?’” said Kautsire, an English literature and writing professor at Bunker Hill Community College and Bay State College in Boston. “And I’ll tell you — I think I got good karma.”
She’s getting invitations to speak, letters from local universities, and donations so that she can send her book to Malawi.
But Kautsire is aware that the initial interest in her book has a lot to do with the rise of white involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd’s murder last year. Her book was released during a time when white people were increasingly interested in learning about Black lives — and Kautsire is more than willing to share, especially if it means broadening perspectives on immigrants, Black women, and Malawi.
“With the movement coinciding with my book, I think it may have even created some kind of sympathetic reading,” said Kautsire, who graduated from Quincy College and UMass Boston. “In writing this book, more than anything I want to join cultures. . . . I want people to see that we’re not so different.”
Natachi Onwuamaegbu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.